Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Opening Remarks
Geographic Information Systems in Transportation Safety
Washington, DC - December 4, 2012
(As Prepared for Delivery)


Good morning. Welcome to the Boardroom of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am Debbie Hersman, and it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the NTSB. Joining me are my fellow Board members: Member Robert Sumwalt, Member Mark Rosekind and Member Earl Weener. Vice Chairman Christopher Hart is unable to join us today.

We are here to learn about the use of geographic information systems, or GIS, in transportation safety. Here at the NTSB, we see GIS helping us conduct better investigations across all modes of transportation.

In addition, there are benefits from using GIS to help identify trends and areas of growing risk. For example, if we start to see a series of accidents and incidents, with GIS we can identify patterns, understand relationships and use its capabilities to help develop countermeasures.

GIS is an exciting use of technology, both for what it can do and for how it can work with other data sources, which we will hear more about today and tomorrow.

I look forward to an extremely informative conference about how GIS can help in accident investigation, prevention, emergency response and so much more.

We are joined by a number of distinguished panelists from across academia, industry, government and the research community. Thank you - all - for your participation.

Now, for some logistics. To begin with, we have a pretty tightly scripted agenda to follow with eight panels designed to cover a range of topics about geographic information systems in transportation safety. The agenda is available in the lobby outside the boardroom and on the NTSB website. The website also includes biographical information about the panelists, who have graciously made themselves available to participate this week.

Since this is a "conference" that means it is an organized meeting where individuals present materials and discussions are facilitated. I will lead each of the panels and will be assisted by an NTSB technical lead.

Each panel will open with presentations by the panelists. The presentations will be followed by a round of questions from the staff technical panelists. In some cases, the Board members will ask questions.

We have selected topics and panelists to address a range of GIS topics. Although we are not soliciting questions from the audience, we encourage your participation by e-mailing your question to gis2012@ ntsb.gov and through our public docket.

Individuals and organizations who wish to submit written comments may do so until January 4, 2013. E-mail those comments and documents to: gis2012@ ntsb.gov.

Because we have a full agenda, we appreciate your cooperation in helping us keep on schedule, and ask that panelists respect time limits and keep discussions focused on the subject at hand.

In addition to our mid-day break, when you are encouraged to get lunch, there will be two breaks each day - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We will keep to the posted schedule so the agenda can be your guide.

We have 12 exhibitors joining us today and tomorrow. You can visit them during the breaks and see several applications of GIS data and technologies up close. The exhibitors may also be able to answer your questions in detail.

As for lunch, there are plenty of places to lunch upstairs in the L'Enfant Plaza food court. Go upstairs and when you enter the main underground walkway head past the atrium and there will be several choices.

In case of an emergency, please note the nearest emergency exit. You can use the rear doors that you used to enter the conference center; and one set of emergency doors on the side of the rostrum in front.

If you have not already done so, please silence your electronic devices. The boardroom is not Wi-Fi equipped, but you can connect to the Internet through a Verizon cellular connection.

Later this week - by Thursday morning - presentations provided by our speakers will be available on our website. Also, within a few days after the conference, a video archive of the webcast can be accessed through the webcast webpage (from the same page where you view the live webcast).

Lastly, I want to thank the NTSB staff for their tremendous effort organizing this public conference. Teamwork is critical to accomplishing NTSB's mission, and the team behind this conference has epitomized the meaning of the word.

They have identified and worked with a world class group of panelists to develop a comprehensive and varied agenda. It has been a pleasure working with this group from the Office of Research and Engineering.

Now, I will turn the podium over to Dr. Ivan Cheung, who has been the lead on this conference.